This story from the Washington Post I think reveals a big problem in the American Catholic Church.
Kathleen Riley knows her beliefs on the male-only priesthood and contraception put her at odds with leaders of her church. But as a fifth-generation Catholic who went to a Catholic school and grew up to teach in one, Riley feels the faith deeply woven through her. So when her Arlington parish asked for volunteers last summer to teach Sunday school, she felt called by the Holy Spirit to say yes.
A year later, the 52-year-old computer scientist feels the same spirit calling her to say no.
You see, the diocese is requiring CCD teachers to essentially sign an oath of fidelity to the teachings of the Church. She, along with a few other teachers, are saying no way.
It’s like the 60’s all over again man!!! Throw off your patriarchal oppressors. Or better yet, they’re like 21st century Gallileos being forced to submit to the Church and bury their own brilliance. But whereass Gallileo attempted to show that the Earth wasn’t the center of the universe, these women seem be attempting to put themselves squarely there.
But here’s the thing -they’re volunteering for this duty. The Catholic gestapo hasn’t sent out its thuggerati in order to press them into servility.
I know that a strong streak of “Don’t tread on me” is woven into the American DNA. And there’s something about oaths of fidelity that just strikes Americans as being put under someone’s thumb, despite them being so commonplace.
In a weird way, I applaud these women for at least taking the oath seriously and realizing that they don’t truck with Church teaching in some areas and therefore refusing to take the oath.
But on the other hand, they should realize what that says about their faith. I think many people believe they are Catholic because they were born into a Catholic family, or they went to a Catholic grammar school, or they took a Latin class in high school.
I think many people believe that they’re Catholic but they build their own personal Catholic Church in which their uninformed conscience serves as their Magisterium and every whim as their catechism.
Everyone is free to do that but you can’t call it Catholicism. And you don’t have a right to teach children that it is.